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Court dismisses SERAP’s request for code of conduct’s judicial review

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A Federal high court, Lagos yesterday dismissed an application brought before it by the Registered Committee of Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP) seeking for an order of the court granting leave to apply for judicial review in respect of Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

SERAP’s application had also sought an order of mandamus directing and compelling the respondent to compile and make available to the applicant information on the number of asset declarations so far verified by it and the number of those declarations found to be false and deemed to be in breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers by the Bureau and to publish widely including on a dedicated website, any such information.

The applicant also sought for an order of mandamus directing and compelling the respondent to immediately take cases of false asset declarations to the Code of Conduct Tribunal for the effective prosecution of suspects, and include banning the politicians involved from holding public offices for at least a period of 10 years and seeking a refund of stolen public funds as part of the reliefs to be sought before the Tribunal.

But in his judgment on Monday Justice Muslim Hassan declined the prayers.

In dismissing the application, Justice Hassan referred to section 15(3) of the constitution which establish Code of Conduct Bureau and its composition.

He referred to paragraph 3(a, b & c) of part 1, 3rd schedule of the 1999 constitution and held that the provision of paragraph 3(a & c) of the 3rd schedule part 1 of 1999 constitution is very clear and unambiguous. 

His words: “I agree with the respondent that the duty to make the asset declaration form of public officer available for any person or institutions and for whatever purpose is dependent upon terms and conditions to be proscribed the National Assembly.

The court held that it is the duty of the National Assembly to prescribe the way and conditions for the release of asset declaration for inspection and to achieve this, the National Assembly has to pass an Act to that effect which has not to be done.

The court further held that the terms and conditions to be prescribed by National Assembly must be specific and related to asset declaration of public officers and not legislation of general nature such as the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

“In the light of the above, I hold that the instant application is unmeritorious and it is accordingly dismissed,” the court declared. 


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